Jo Stevens

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Opposition Day Debate on Women and the Economy

On Wednesday 9th December I spoke in the Opposition day debate on Women and the Economy.

The debate was secured by the Labour Party following its concern over the disproportionate impact of the Conservative Government's policies on women. House of Commons Library data has confirmed that measures in the Summer and Autumn statement on tax and benefit changes have hit women three times harder than men. Three times.

Not only this, but the UK gender pay gap stands at 19.2% (higher than the EU average); the introduction of tribunal fees mean that women have to pay a staggering £1,200 in order to bring forward an equal pay claim. Recent statistics have also shown that the levels of maternity discrimination have almost doubled in recent years.

It is crystal clear from the actions of this Conservative Government do not reflect that of a party whose leader claims that he is a feminist.

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Whether we are talking about fiscal measures such as taxes and benefits; the labour market and women's employment rights and chances; public spending on services and infrastructure; women's safety; or women's voices and influence, women of all ages and backgrounds face an insecure and worrying future as a result of Government policy. That is far from the security that the Chancellor promised would be at the heart of his spending decisions.

I contributed four times in this debate; how the Government could take positive steps to close the pay gap; how easy equal pay audits are to complete; how the Government needs to look beyond statistics for non-executive director roles and also look at (and focus on) the number of women who are executive directors or in active senior leadership roles; and I called on the Government to scrap employment fee tribunals.

My Labour Party colleagues and I will continue hold the Government to account on its policies that are unfairly discriminating against women, and I will continue the fight for gender equality.

You can watch my contributions to the debate here:

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